Half time: Arsenal 1 Man City 1
That’ll do it for the first half. Arsenal awful at the start but have snuck back into it.
45 mins: Arsenal 1 Man City 1
Martinelli hobbles off. The Arsenal staff all look concerned. Oh look, he is coming back on! Oh well that’s good. I thought he was going to need the stretcher there.
43 mins: Arsenal 1 Man City 1
Ball drilled forward and it’s a straight race between Martinelli and the City keeper Steffen. The City goalie clips him on the way through and the young Arsenal wide man is hurt. Shame. He looks like he is crying, the young man. Rotten luck. The City goalie was absolutely within his rights to go for that and he won the ball fair and square, sliding at top speed to intercept.
41 mins: Arsenal 1 Man City 1
This is good from the Arsenal goalie though. Foden dummies and Jesus is onto it. Runarsson does really well to get down and deny him.
37 mins: Arsenal 1 Man City 1
City controlling it for the last three or four minutes. Mahrez is nearly in.
34 mins: Arsenal 1 Man City 1
Steffen nervously gives it straight to Willock. City have just about enough bodies back to crowd Arsenal out.
31 mins: Arsenal 1 Man City 1
Arsenal look energised and a bit more confident. Cedric down the right now, crosses, and that causes a few problems.
GOAL! Arsenal 1 Man City 1 (Lacazette 30)
Against the run of play! Martinelli, who has been Arsenal’s brightest spot, gets down the left well and crosses. That is repelled but he gets another crack. Delivers a ball in and up pops Alex Lacazette, of all people, to nod the ball in!
Bit much to call that a freak, it is Arsenal at home, but I mean you couldn’t have seen that coming.
27 mins: Arsenal 0 Man City 1
Runarsson comes out a mile and is never getting there. Ceballos saves his bacon but Arsenal looking shot at the back.
City have a couple of corners. Tussling for the second one, Fernandinho gives Ceballos a little slap in the face. No VAR tonight. Ceballos, it should be said, made a ridiculous meal of it but on the other hand, you cannot go around slapping in people in the face can you?
25 mins: Arsenal 0 Man City 1
Jesus with another jinky run, he’s absolutely had Mustafi there, beaten him and the Arsenal player has no choice really but to rugby tackle the City man. Another booking.
22 mins: Arsenal 0 Man City 1
Elneny chops down Jesus outside the box. Referee books him and there can be no debate.
21 mins: Arsenal 0 Man City 1
Laporte gets up well for a header that is not far from making it 2.
17 mins: Arsenal 0 Man City 1
Not to say that City have been amazing, though. Arsenal have ceded possession to them and they’ve not done a lot with it.
Nice improv from Foden as he
mimes a man eating dinner alone in a howling gale flicks the ball over his head for a cheeky shot on goal but without any power behind it.
15 mins: Arsenal 0 Man City 1
The match other than that is almost entirely contested in Arsenal’s half.
11 mins: Arsenal 0 Man City 1
That leads to a corner, Ceballos tries the outswinger and Lacazette tries the little nod at the first post.
10 mins: Arsenal 0 Man City 1
Arsenal have their first moment of note when Laporte has to turn the ball behind as Willock chases.
8 mins: Arsenal 0 Man City 1
Arsenal looking a complete shower. Nowhere near City, creating zero problems.
3 mins: Arsenal 0 Man City 1
Never mind Arsenal fans, still an hour and half to go. Full back was nothing to write home about for the goal, by the way. Rounded with some ease by Zinchenko.
GOAL! Arsenal 0 Man City 1 (Jesus 2)
Oh well that’s a good start for the back five. Zinchenko crosses from the left, Gabriel Jesus gets in between the centre halves and, unmarked, heads it home.
“Criminal defending,” laments Smith on Sky TV.
Mustafi gazes balefully at the space where Jesus just strode, and which he should have been blocking.
1 mins: Arsenal 0 Man City 0
Alan Smith: “Arsenal warmed up as a back four but are playing with a back five.”
Ooh. Funky Arteta.
Eight changes from the hosts.
Elneny, Maitland-Niles and Ceballos are the three Arsenal men who keep their place.
defends (? if that is not a bit strong) his team selection: “We have got some injuries, and we had to rotate the squad. But this is still a really strong team.”
of course have got this trophy screwed down in the clubhouse.
Micah Richards: “Why would you turn your nose up at the League Cup? As a player, once you finish, you look in your trophy cabinet and why would you not want that in there?”
Tyers here. Newcastle were a bit wretched, but WELL DONE Brentford. Which of these teams will join the mighty Bees in the hat for the semi? We shall know soon enough. Goes to pens if level after 90 btw.
Arsenal: Runarsson, Cedric, Gabriel, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Ceballos, Elneny, Maitland-Niles, Willock, Martinelli, Lacazette. Subs: Leno, Tierney, Pepe, Pablo Mari, Nketiah, Smith-Rowe, Balogun.
Man City: Steffen, Joao Cancelo, Dias, Laporte, Zinchenko, Rodri, Fernandinho, Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Foden, Gabriel Jesus. Subs: Walker, Stones, Sterling, Gundogan, Aguero, Torres, Ederson.
Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)
And suddenly the League Cup means something!
Both of these teams and both of these managers must surely secretly have felt that the League Cup is beneath Mikel Arteta and Arsenal, and Pep Guardiola and Manchester City. But with problems on other fronts, maybe lifting the third most prestigious prize in English domestic football starts to look like the sort of thing that might keep a feller gainfully employed…
Sitting a desperate 15th place in the Premier League table, Arsenal’s chances of winning the League are effectively zero, and even finishing in the vital top four seems essentially impossible. True, they are still in the Europa League last-32 but they face a tricky assignment against Benfica in that and, to be brutally honest, unless results at home pick up soon, that’s not going to be Mikel’s problem. He is odds on favourite to be the next Premier League manager sacked, and wouldn’t be human if he wasn’t thinking “well if we can just keep this League Cup run going maybe that will buy me some time…”
Jason Burt, who has seen a managerial meltdown or two in his time, was put in mind of Rafa’s ‘Facts’ rant by Arteta recently. And that cannot be a good thing.
Pep might have some sympathy with his mate and former assistant, but he cannot afford to take his eye off his own problems for one second. City are in 8th and the League Title looks seriously unlikely from here. There was no shame in being runners-up to an inspired Liverpool last season, but who would bet that City will even take silver this season?
Telegraph Sport columnist Jamie Carragher is in no doubt that Pep has the class to turn it around at Man City but wonders if the manager has the energy.
In any job, it is impossible to flourish at a consistently high standard without one. Because of the pandemic the psychological release has not been there, and although every coach in the world is in the same situation, some carry more burden, pressures and expectations than others. As the most successful manager of the last ten years, Guardiola is judged to a higher standard.To me, he looks like he is suffering because of the lack of opportunity to re-energise. Whenever I see him interviewed it sounds like he would rather be somewhere else.